Dispatches from Planet Baby

I Wanted a Cactus -- Adventures of a Reluctant Father

“The baby doesn’t know I’m an amateur.” These words have been my solace as I figure out how to be a father, day by day, and child by child.

Genre: Narrative Nonfiction
Sub-genres: Parenting, personal essay, memoir, humor
Audience: General / mass market
Word Count: ~ 90,000
Status: Ready for Submission

These are the stories of my journey into fatherhood, told for everyone who is already a parent, or will become one soon…and for anyone who has ever wondered “Dad, c'mon, what the hell?” I’m making it up as I go, kid, and trying not to screw up too badly. Here’s what I’ve learned, and the peculiar, terrifying, ironically profound ways I’ve learned it.

A good friend once introduced me to her mother, aunt, and grandmother, by way of a shower of compliments for my writing and parenting. She then patted her baby bump and asked me, before this tribunal of wise matrons, "So, what advice do you have for a new parent?" Every nice thing she'd just said about me, every ounce of pride I had painstakingly won as a dad, was suddenly on the line.

Whatever I said then is lost to time, but the question stuck with me. I Wanted a Cactus is something of an answer, at last, told in stories suffused with humor, wisdom, and lessons learned.

I became a father when my first son was born, and a dad when I charged through an angry swarm of wasps to rescue him.

I didn't expect that potty training would include a freshwater spring, rampant nudity, and a stern park ranger.

My son faced each of my greatest fears and most unsettling shortcomings, without knowing it, before his fifth birthday...leaving me scrambling to be the brave, confident man I like thinking I am, despite evidence to the contrary.

Becoming a parent has taught me a lot about courage, about leadership, and about honesty--especially about being honest with myself. Those lessons, with plenty of humor, suffuse I Wanted a Cactus.

My journey from yuppie to dad is by no means unique; what is unique, and makes these stories interesting to a wide audience, is their insights into common moments, concerns, and challenges that many parents face, and in the voice that tells the stories.

Chapters include: "A Good Idea at the Time," "The Wrath of Good Intentions--A Birth Story," "Baby Dartmouth," "Dances with Toddler," and many more. Many chapters may be easily excerpted for marketing-related publication in magazines, online, and elsewhere.

Word count: ~ 100,000 in 21 chapters

request a review copy

Editors, publishers, and agents are welcome to contact Dave to request a full-length review copy of I Wanted a Cactus. He is ready to work with you to polish this manuscript into the most salable form it can take, and to aggressively promote it once published...as he has done for each of his prior titles.